Andrew Burnstine Retail Matters

When Macy’s unveiled a new turnaround plan on Tuesday, it came along with a collective sense of Deja vu.

The American department store chain is set to close 150 stores by 2026, bringing its total down to 350 — nearly half of the 650 locations it operated just five years ago. The hope is that shuttering those unproductive stores will allow the retailer to allocate more than $500 million in savings toward more promising areas of improvement, such as small-format stores and online-offline customer service.

But Macy’s has been shuttering unprofitable locations for years, well before new CEO Tony Spring unveiled what the retailer has dubbed as its “Bold New Chapter” strategy. As Bloomberg columnist Leticia Miranda noted this week, former Macy’s chief executive Jeff Gennette embarked on not just one, but two nearly identical store optimisation initiatives in his six-year tenure, which ended at the start of this year. And in closing stores, Macy’s is arguably further diminishing its presence in the lives of American consumers, which could ultimately be its death knell. The same trajectory pushed Sears and J.C. Penney into bankruptcy and liquidation.

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